When Heroes Let You Down: The Hip-Hop Edition
December 5, 2008, 10:31 am
Filed under: Music, Rap/Hip-Hop, T.I., Who's A Gangsta'?

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In seventh grade, at the ripe old age of 12, I discovered the most glorious thing on Earth — rap music.

For the first eleven years of my life, I had no idea what rap was. I was a white kid with white parents, whose musical diversity stretched all the way from Frankie Valley to Elton John. (Fuck you. That Lion King album was awesome.) When I found out about rap, though, it opened my eyes to something new altogether. Dr. Dre? Warren G? These dudes could beat the shit out of John Secada. No longer would I jam out to George Michael in my mom’s Ford Escort.

Since that time, I’ve been a devoted rap/hip-hop fan. I’ve followed some of the best, and witnessed some of the worst. (I don’t care how often your crappy song played on the radio, Skee-Lo. You were still destined to be cast as the lead role in Black Leprechaun 2.) I’ve seen Vanilla Ice go rock, Snoop go Hollywood, Mase go spiritual and Marshall Mathers go whale. I watched as Flava Flav become a total characterature of himself. My hip-hop roots stretched as far deep into the ground as a white person’s roots can reach.

Lately, my favorite artist, by far, has been T.I.. His lyrics flow smoothly over every catchy beat, making every single one of his songs 100% listenable; more than I can say for the majority of artists nowadays. (Bla. Bla. Get off my lawn. Bla. Bla. Old person joke.)

But, I ask you, what the hell happened to T.I.P.?

Today, I found myself torn. The man who once proudly proclaimed, he had a strong mind to grab his chrome nine and shoot at my ass for a long time, has now turned bitch. Live Your Life, basically does nothing but whine about haters; Whatever You Like is a song that explains how he spends a shit ton of money to get laid; and Porn Star is a dreadfully gay attempt at a thug-style love ballad.

A look at a few examples…

T.I., on his new, gangsta’ approach to dealing with haters:

Seems as though you lost sight of what’s important when depositin’ / Checks into your bank account and you up out of poverty / Your values is in disarray, prioritizing horribly / Unhappy with the riches cause you piss poor morally.

When I was in 9th grade, and about to get my ass beat by a bully who was much larger than myself, I tried the same thing. I explained how what he was doing was wrong, how thoroughly he would pound me, and how it would be a waste for him to even get in trouble for such a lame fight. Either my pleading worked, or he was just too bored to sit there and listen to me, and he eventually just walked away annoyed. I tried this approach because I had the fighting skills of a 3rd grade girl, and no other options. T.I. served jail time. Me thinks he might be able to fight a bit. This approach would only pass for acceptable if he were, oh, I don’t know, Dr. Fucking Phil. He’s T.I.! The same guy who stated flatly, and pretty accurately, “It’s hard to yell when the barrel’s in your mouth.” Dammit, act like a man again.

T.I., on picking up women:

My chick could have what she want / And go in any store for any bag she want / And know she ain’t never had a man like that / To buy you anything your heart desire like that.

What? I’m sorry. Does someone wanna remind T.I. that he’s famous and doesn’t need to buy women shit to get laid? Uh, I’m pretty sure Tupac just snapped his fucking fingers and had women doing whatever he wanted. Why is T.I. paying for this crap?

Now, I know this is a step in the right direction for society. Treating women like women and talking your problems out are infinitely better ideas than smacking bitches and shooting snitches. I should be proud of the progress the hip-hop world has made. But I’m not.

I’m just an average white kid living an average life, and I need my rappers to be excessively gangsta, so that I can live my life vicariously through them. It’s why I watch movies and obsess over sports. Because as long as the film reel is spinning, I’m Vince Vaughn. As long as the scoreboard is lit, I’m Kieth Brooking. And up until his last few songs, when the track was playing, I was a gangsta from Atlanta, slanging dope. Or coke. Or PS3s. Or whatever it is that gangsters slang nowadays.

Not anymore.

You could blame it on the Patron or the champagne / But sometimes being bad could be a good thing.

Now I’m just another creepy guy at the bar hoping a girl gets drunk enough to sleep with him.

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